Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless has said that if Ireland is to be a real player in the international science community, membership of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is key.

Deputy Lawless said membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and European Southern Observatory (ESO) alone was not enough and that Ireland was isolating itself by not being a member of CERN.

He said, “The Committee on Enterprise and Innovation will publish their report tomorrow and given the high level of engagement shown thus far and the backing they have given for Ireland’s membership of CERN, I hope the Government takes the recommendations on board.

“Last year I visited the CERN facilities in Geneva to meet with the executive team and discuss the possibility of Ireland joining the organisation. I then invited senior officials from CERN and the Irish physics sector to speak to the Oireachtas Committee and highlight the benefits of CERN membership.

“The Oireachtas Committee was very favourable to the officials who came to speak with us and the engagement was very promising.

“For Ireland there are many scientific and economic opportunities associate with membership, including engagement in big data, supercomputing, and spin-off technologies; not to mention the wealth of resources CERN provides to the scientific community in its member states.

“As it stands we are outliers in terms of membership, with only Malta and Luxembourg for company as EU non-members of CERN.

“The ball is now in the Government’s court, but I would hope that they would follow the cross-party Committee recommendation which wholeheartedly supports Ireland’s membership,” he concluded.